CRITICAL ISSUE: CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Materials for Democratic Campaigns in Virginia
Democrats lead the way with criminal justice reform
Virginia Democrats are working to make communities safer by reforming the criminal justice system. Their recent evidenced-based reforms have focused on dismantling the racist, unfair, and unjust criminal justice system built during the Jim Crow era. If Republicans take back the VA legislature, criminal justice reforms will be repealed and reversed!
Years of Republican-controlled legislatures have resulted in a criminal justice system characterized by well-calculated racial disparities. Beginning with the 2020 session, Democrats have now taken control of both chambers. Together with Gov. Northam (D), the way is now cleared for significant reform at every level of the state’s criminal justice system, from traffic stops to prison sentences. In just 14 months, Democrats have delivered significant criminal justice reform legislation!
DEMOCRATIC RESPONSES: They Say/We Say
They say: Democrats are not tough on crime.
We say: Democrats want fair, evidence-based criminal justice laws.
They say: Republicans are the party of law and order.
We say: Republicans have criminalized poverty, over-policed and under-served Black and Latino communities for decades, for decades, and we are now seeing an unprecedented increase in AAPI hate crimes. Our criminal justice system is failing to keep communities safe and failing to deliver justice.
They say: Democrats want to cut police funding.
We say: Democrats support appropriate police funding. Democrats also support expanded investments in police training, social services, mental health co-responders, and drug treatment, services that actually reduce crime and lead to safer communities.
- Virginians want safe communities; Democrats’ justice
reforms focus on making all communities safe.
- Republicans trade on fear, racism, and exploit criminal
justice issues for votes.
- Republicans’ approach to criminal justice is incarceration,
while Democrats know that rehabilitation leads to
- Traffic stops are about searching the vehicle. They are
not about broken taillights and dangling air fresheners.
- Cuts to public services under Republicans have left police on the front lines, responding to social challenges for
which they have not been trained, ranging from
homelessness to mental health crises to the opioid
Virginia Democrats Deliver
- Banned no-knock warrants
- Limited traffic stops
- Limited police use of choke holds
- Created mental health response
teams to co-respond with police
- Mandated racial bias, de-escalation and crisis intervention training for police
- Decertified problem police officers
- Empowered civilian review boards
- and much more!
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